The Future of A's Baseball

Friday, January 27, 2006

Santiago Casilla

Jairo Garcia, the A's top minor-league reliever, is now known as Santiago Casilla. That is his real name; Casilla used false documents when he signed his first contract, something that is not unusual in the Dominican Republic but that has been less frequent since a post-Sept. 11 crackdown on visas.

"It's something we didn't know about, but he came forward with the information, so I commend him for that,'' general manager Billy Beane said.

Garcia/Casilla has aged 2 years and 10 months; he's now 25. He'll have to be issued all new papers, which could delay his arrival at spring training.

It's going to take the A's some getting used to. Beane referred to Casilla as "Jairo'' several times.

"I'm sure we'll all just keep calling him Jairo,'' Haren said. "That's such a good name, too.''


Jairo..I mean, Santiago, still has a chance because his stuff is still very good, but boy does this hurt his prospect status.

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

An idea

from the comments section of the last post. Name 3 guys from each of the past 2 draft classes who you think will have a breakout season and why?

From 2004

Richie Robnett - Robnett had sort of a let down season with an alarming K rate, but the potential is still there. If he moves up to Midland next season he might be able to play full time in center which would improve his value instantly. If he can push the 3:1 AB:K to 4:1 he might be able to force his way onto a top 100 in baseball list. He already has a good eye at the plate, he just needs to shorten up in certain situations. If he does that, he might push 30 HR's and 30 doubles.

Landon Powell - The reason for Powell is obvious, his health. If his knee holds up and his weight stays down he has a chance to be a starting catcher some day. The problem though is that Powell will already be 24 at the start of the season. Another problem, one that goes hand in hand with his age, is that even if he dominates in Stockton, Kurt Suzuki will be blocking him from a promotion to Midland. Powell has as much power as anyone in the system short of maybe Robnett and is actually pretty similar to Nick Swisher, a favorite of mine.

Huston Street - Nah, just kidding.

Ryan Webb - Word is that the A's worked with Webb's mechanics in Instructional League and Webb responded by adding a few MPH to his fastball. Not much else reason beyond that. He's already got the frame as well as solid control. The A's drafted him with the hope that he'd add velocity. Well, here it is. I'm anxious to see how he's able to use it.

From 2005

Jason Ray - No other reason he's here besides his amazing K rate of almost 2 per inning. When you can get a guy that is compared to Trevor Hoffman you might just have youself a keeper. Ray's walk rate last season leaves a lot to be desired, but he improved that while maintaining the K rate as the season went on. I think he can see time in Midland this season and time in Oakland not too far past 2006.

Kevin Bunch - He has the frame like Webb, but he almost has the velocity already. He also has potential to add more as he has only recently started pitching full time. Lets hope he adjusts to full time pitching a little better than a former favorite of mine, Ben Fritz.

Craig Italiano - I only list Italiano because his potential is so high. If he can refine his control early in his career, say 2006, then he can be in Oakland before we know it.


Who would you guys list for "breakout players of 2006"?

Monday, January 23, 2006

Man

It gets really hard to come up with things to write about after a while.How about you guys use this post to ask me anything that you want to know that I may be able to answer or just go ahead and suggest something I can make a post about.

Thursday, January 12, 2006

Depth Charts

Deciding on how to sort the players was difficult, but I chose prospect rankings. Hopefully it can give an idea of strengths and weaknesses in the system. The level I have the players listed with is where I'd expect them to start next season.

C - Kurt Suzuki (AA), Landon Powell (A+), Jeremy Brown (AAA), John Baker ( AAA), Raul Padron (A+)

1B - Daric Barton (AA), Brant Colamarino (AAA), Tommy Everidge (A+)

2B - Kevin Melillo (AA), Gregorio Petit (A+), Luke Appert (AA)

SS - Cliff Pennington (A+), Justin Sellers (A-), Mike Rouse (AAA)

3B - Brian Snyder (AA), Vasili Spanos (AA)

LF - Danny Putnam (AA), Brian Stavisky (AAA), Matt Watson (AAA)

CF - Javier Herrera (A+), Freddie Bynum (AAA)

RF - Richie Robnett (AA), Travis Buck (A+), Jason Perry (AAA)

RHSP - Craig Italiano (A-), Jared Lansford (A-), Jason Windsor (AA), Shane Komine (AAA), Brad Knox (AA), Ryan Webb (A+), Jimmy Shull (A+), Kevin Bunch (A-), Vince Mazzaro (A-), Mike Rogers (A+)

LHSP - Dan Meyer (AAA), Dallas Braden (AA), John Rheinecker (AAA)

RHRP - Jairo Garcia (AAA), Jason Ray (A+), Chris Mabeus (AAA), Shawn Kohn (AAA)

LHRP - Ron Flores (AAA), Matt Lynch (AA)


Notes: The A's are both strong and weak in right handed starters. While the crop of righties is very deep, once you get beyond the newer HS arms, the pitchers are all very low ceiling. The lack of almost any left handers is pretty worriesome. The offense doesn't seem to be much of a concern. With such a young starting rotation the A's will have a couple years to correct the system's weakness without it being a real problem.

Wednesday, January 04, 2006

My interview with A's prospect Craig Italiano

A's Future: We've all heard about the upper 90's fastball, but can you give a little more detailed scouting report on yourself?

Craig Italiano: My slider is still getting sharper with more velocity. My change is working well off of my fastball.



AF: Were you at all aware that the A's had interest in you?

CI: I had no idea until draft day.



AF: Were you at all involved in the contract negotiation process?

CI: My agent handled most of it.


AF: The A's hadn't gone HS heavy in about half a decade, was it at all satisfying that you were part of the group that bucked the trend?

CI: Yes, it was a good feeling. The A's are well known for taking college players.



AF: How clear was the difference in talent between high school and your first taste of professional baseball?


CI: There was a very clear difference. Everyone can hit, 1-9. I learned quickly to keep it down and stay ahead.



AF: When were you first scouted by a college/professional team?

CI: Spring of my junior year.



AF: Your high school teammate Paul Kelly went just one selection after you, what was that like for the both of you?

CI: I was on the phone with the A's when he was selected. My mom yelled the news from the other room. We couldn't believe it! Has that ever happend before?



AF: With 2 talents of yours and Kelly's calibre, how many scouts were at each of your games?

CI: There were quite a few scouts at every game. The first scrimmage of the year there was about 40.



AF: Were you prepared to go to college if the A's didn't meet your demands? If so, what school?

CI: Yes. I was signed to play at TCU.



AF: BaseballAmerica states that as a reliever you might resemble Brad Lidge. Quite the compliment, but how important is it to you to remain a starter?

CI: Wherever I can help the A's is where I want to be.



AF: Have the A's attempted to make any adjustments to your mechanics?

CI: Yes they are getting me to work over the rubber longer and not fly open. There may be more velocity.



AF: What are your goals for the 2006 season?

CI: I hope to make Double A before the end of the year.



AF: Thanks again Craig, I really appreciate it. I hope to you see in Stockton real soon.

CI: Thank you for the interview!


Here is Craig Italiano's pre-draft profile from BaseballAmerica:
Flower Mound is loaded with pitching prospects, including Paul Kelly, Jordan Meaker and Brandon Gaviglio, but it all starts with Italiano, who has lit up radar guns more consistently than anyone in the nation this spring. He has pitched in the mid-90s and touched 97-98 mph on several occasions. "He has thrown bullets every time out," one scouting director says. Italiano also has improved his breaking ball, taking it from a slurve to more of a true slider. He has drawn comparisons to Brad Lidge, and Italiano's future may be in the bullpen because teams worry about his delivery and durability. He short-arms the ball and throws with a lot of effort, and the consensus is that whoever drafts him will have to let him keep pitching that way. Italiano had elbow problems in the past and missed a mid-April start with shoulder inflammation. He pitched well after returning, finishing his season with a shutout in the Texas 5-A playoffs, Flower Mound's lone win in a three-game series.

How scary is the fact that there more be more velocity there?


My interview with Kevin Bunch


My interview with Scot Drucker


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Monday, January 02, 2006

The A's had a lot of crappy players in 2005

This isn't quite a post on prospects, but my other post isn't ready yet so I came up with this one to keep you guys busy.


Charles Thomas - 46 AB's, 5 hits, 5 walks, 0 doubles, 0 triples, 0 HR's
Matt Watson - 48 AB's, 9 hits, 2 walks, 3 doubles, 0 triples, 0 HR's
Keith Ginter - 137 AB's, 22 hits, 13 walks, 5 doubles, 0 triples, 3 HR's
Eurbiel Durazo - 152 AB's, 36 hits, 14 walks, 6 doubles, 1 triple, 4 HR's
Marco Scutaro - 381 AB's, 94 hits, 36 walks, 22 doubles, 3 triples, 9 HR's
Scott Hatteberg - 464 AB's, 119 hits, 51 walks, 19 doubles, 0 triples, 7 HR's

TOTAL - 1,228 AB's, 285 hits, 121 walks, 55 doubles, 4 triples, 23 HR's

That is good for a .232 BA, a .301 OBP and a .340 SLG. A .641 OPS.

The A's averaged 685 AB's per spot in the lineup. The above players combined for almost 2 whole spots in the batting order with that would-be-AL-low .641 OPS.

Of the above players, I'd expect only Marco Scutaro to open the season on the 25 man roster. While he'll be back, I expect him to get at least 300 fewer AB's.

Those 1,200+ AB's will be replaced with AB's from Dan Johnson, Bobby Crosby, Mark Ellis and Antonio Perez. Of course the injury bug may strike again, but until then the significance of of the above cannot be over stated.


Tim Harikkala - 12.2 innings, 9 earned runs, 16 hits, 4 walks, 3 HR's
Ryan Glynn - 17 innings, 13 earned runs, 24 hits, 7 walks, 5 HR's
Seth Etherton - 17.2 innings, 13 earned runs, 16 hits, 5 walks, 4 HR's
Juan Cruz - 32.2 innings, 27 earned runs, 38 hits, 22 walks, 5 HR's
Ricardo Rincon - 37.1 innings, 18 earned runs, 34 hits, 20 walks, 7 HR's
Keiichi Yabu - 58 innings, 29 earned runs, 64 hits, 26 walks, 6 HR's

TOTAL - 175 innings, 109 earned runs, 192 hits, 84 walks, 30 HR's

That is good for a 5.60 ERA, 1.58 WHIP and about 1/5 of the entire A's total of HR's allowed (30 of 154)

Granted that a lot of those innings were in a mop up role, they're still innings nonetheless. 175 innings is about what a team should expect to get from their 5th starter. The above pitchers combined to be one of the worst qualified pitchers in baseball.

Those 175 innings will be replaced by Kirk Saarloos, Esteban Loaiza, Rich Harden, Jay Witasick and Joe Kennedy. Again, the significance of this difference cannot be over stated.


Time will tell how injuries effect the A's attempts to keep such below average players off the field, but the injury bug cannot possibly strike as hard as it did last season.

Sunday, January 01, 2006

Just a bit

I'm working on a post, it should be up within a couple days